Last month, I joined Secretary Vilsack in announcing National Small Business Week on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Louisiana. In support of rural small businesses, USDA announced several funding opportunities across the country for business owners to increase their capacity to hire new workers and expand their businesses. Small Businesses are the lifeblood of every community, but in a rural town one small business can mean the difference between a thriving main street and empty windows. This is why the work that USDA does on behalf of rural America is so important.
The state office for Rural Development is located in Central Louisiana where I met State Director Clarence Hawkins and his staff before we headed out to visit local businesses. The first stop was Consolidated Energy Holdings in Pollock. A variety of waste sources is produced by the company. Later, I had the opportunity to speak at the Cenla Small Business Appreciation Luncheon at the Central Louisiana Business Incubator in Alexandria. I was so inspired by the business incubator, which the city started as a workforce training facility for those with the desire to grow and expand their businesses. The incubator provides business owners with growth strategies, financing options, resources, and administrative support to name a few. There is an industrial kitchen available to use for food based business opportunities and specialty food producers. This incubator is the epitome of what small communities across rural America should be doing, making investments in their own citizens to foster job growth. Read more »
Pony Ranch Pond, a new home for the dusky gopher frog, is monitored by the National Forests in Mississippi and several cooperators. (Western Carolina University photo/ John A. Tupy)
To most people, the sound heard near Pony Ranch Pond could easily be mistaken as snoring. To local conservation professionals, however, it was more like a song, signifying hope and celebrating a small victory for the nearly extinct dusky gopher frog.
In February, National Forests in Mississippi staff, researchers and volunteers discovered and documented six dusky gopher frogs at the De Soto National Forest pond. One frog, a 5-year-old female, had travelled nearly a mile from nearby Glen’s Pond – until then the only known site where the endangered amphibians live and breed. Read more »
Amy Merrit of Oso, Wash., and Kim Woodward of Darrington, Wash., work on maintaining the Pacific Crest Trail on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington. (U.S. Forest Service photo)
If you’re a student who likes fresh air, scenic vistas, hiking and camping, the U.S. Forest Service might have the perfect job for you.
This year, some units of the Forest Service have been hosting one-day recruiting fairs that teach high school and college students how to apply for upcoming summer jobs with the government. Read more »
Nathan Cann volunteers at Hollygrove Market and Farm (HGMF) in exchange for a box of fresh produce valued at $25.00 in New Orleans, LA on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. USDA photo by Karen Lawson.
New Orleans is known for many special things, not the least of which is its food.
That’s why Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan chose the crescent city this week to release a new report on the importance of food hubs in America. The report finds that there is an increasing demand for fresh, local foods and the popularity of food hubs is growing quickly. In fact, there are well over 200 across the country now, including Hollygrove Farm and Market in downtown New Orleans. Read more »
Deputy Secretary Merrigan surveys produce being grown by urban farmers in New Orleans.
Earlier this week, I traveled to New Orleans with Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan to meet with the local farming and fishing community. What I saw at the Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation (MQVN) was inspirational. Read more »
Thinking outside the box proved to be a winning solution when the U.S. Forest Service and the Caddo Nation joined forces to investigate and identify archeological sites on national forests in Texas and Louisiana.
In 2009, Barbara Williams, heritage program manager for the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas, faced the daunting task of uncovering evidence of historic and prehistoric artifacts buried in the loamy soil of the Davy Crockett National Forest and Sabine National Forest in the deep East Texas piney woods.
So the forest reached out to the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma, whose historic homeland was in the forests of East Texas. The Tribe partners with the Southern Region for training as heritage paraprofessionals and employment on the region’s national forests. Read more »